Wills, Advance Directives, Power of Attorney
A testamentary will is used to maximize the likelihood that your wishes will be carried out after your death. While none of us like thinking about dying, if you do not have a will the state will direct who receives your property whether that follows your wishes or not.
An “advance directive” is a legal document that goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. This could be the result of disease or severe injury—no matter how old you are. Advance directives allows you to express your values and desires related to medical care and end-of-life care. You might think of it as a living document—one that you can adjust as your situation changes because of new information or a change in your health. A power of attorney gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf as your agent. This includes granting that person the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. The power may give either limited or permanent authority to act on your behalf. The power may take effect immediately, or only upon the occurrence of a future event, usually a determination that you are unable to act for yourself due to mental or physical disability. You may need a Power of Attorney for your parents to do things for you, like registering your car without you present.